Identifying and meeting the development needs of novice teachers : experiences at one school in Durban.
This study explored the experiences in identifying and meeting the developmental needs of novice teachers at one primary school in Durban. The researcher’s assumption was that mentoring and teacher development are a norm at schools. It is argued that in order to keep in touch with current educational trends and to maintain a sense of renewal and inspiration teacher development is an important issue within the changing context of education in South Africa. This is evident in the new policy developments such as the National Policy Framework for Teacher Education in South Africa and Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD). The process of mentoring may be regarded as a form of teacher development, hence mentoring and teacher development cannot be regarded as two separate processes, they occur in relation to each other. Furthermore, novice teachers enter the profession with certain expectations and often experience a gap between the reality of teaching practice and their ideals. In the context of this background and within a qualitative interpretive paradigm this study drew on the experiences of novice teachers and educational managers in one school. For the purpose of data collection, semistructured interviews were used which allowed participants to discuss their experiences and interpretations of mentoring and teacher developmental needs and to express how they regarded situations from their own point of view. Data collected from the document analysis was merged with the data collected from the interviews. The findings indicated that the developmental needs of novice teachers were multifaceted such as: mentoring and induction must take place initially; a yearning to be socially accepted by the serving staff; a need to be heard regarding their experiences and developmental needs; to be informed on how to construct learning area work schedules, lesson plans and assessment tasks to suit the requirements at this school, especially in the initial days of there employment and the management of diversity and strategies to implement inclusive education. The study concluded that although the management and leadership of the school played a meaningful and supportive role in the professional and personal competence of the novice teachers, led by the principal who was encouraging and supportive, there was still room for improvement in the practices of leadership and management in attempting to identify and meet the developmental needs of novice teachers.